Lesbians' experiences of depression: Linking experience to social discourse
AuthorBarnard, Amy Grace
AdvisorBadger, Terry A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDepression is being diagnosed worldwide at rapidly increasing rates. The World Health Organization has identified depression as the second leading cause of disability worldwide. Women are diagnosed with depression at twice the rate of men. Although much research has been conducted on depression in women, there is very little research on depression in lesbians. The impact of living within a heteronormative society upon lesbians' experiences of depression is unknown. The purpose of this study was to explore lesbians' subjective experiences of depression. Critical ethnographic methods were used to study the ways that lesbians construct their experiences of depression. Twelve self-identified lesbians participated in up to three in-depth interviews conducted over an eight month period. Social constructionism and critical theories underpinned the study's methodology. Thematic analysis led to a schema of themes, domains, and categories that described the participants' experiences. The analysis found no commonalities across the narratives linking being a lesbian with experiences of depression. However, many patterns did emerge describing the ways that the participants construct their experiences of depression. Four themes were identified: Being depressed: Describing the experience, The roots of depression: Emotional dissonance, Managing depression: Desire for relief, and Explaining depression: Needing to know why . The dominant discourses of depression forwarded by psychiatry and psychology have penetrated the popular culture and shaped the participants' understandings of their feelings of depression. These discourses assist in the maintenance of social hegemonies. Further analysis of the study themes led to the discovery that experiences of depression are class-mediated, with study outliers offering glimpses into alternative class-based constructions of depression. The participants shared a number of constructs in formulations of their sexuality. Lesbian identity and radical-cultural feminist discourses underpinned the participants' narratives of identity. Class privilege was identified as significant in these women's abilities to comfortably negotiate their marginalized sexuality within a heteronormative society. Implications of the study for nursing practice, education and research include the formulation of new understandings of lesbianism and sexuality. Findings indicate future depression research must explore of the ways social class influences experiences and perceptions of depression.
Degree ProgramGraduate College